Grigor's Breakthrough: Dimitrov Reaches First US Open QF
Grigor Dimitrov isn’t shy to admit that his 2019 hasn’t gone as planned, but he was rewarded for his persistence on Sunday at the US Open. The Bulgarian reached his first quarter-final in New York by producing one of his best performances of the season, scoring the lone break in each set to defeat #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
“There’s not much to say other than that I’m pleased to be back on a court, pain-free and feeling really good,” Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. “I’ve put a lot of miles in my legs [and] a lot of practise.”
After a solid start to the year in Australia, Dimitrov missed two months with a right shoulder injury and struggled when he returned. He arrived in New York with a 7-13 record since the Australian Open and hadn't reached a tour-level quarter-final since January. His performance against De Minaur appears to be a sign that the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion has turned a corner and is moving back to the form that saw him peak at No. 3 in the ATP Rankings.
The Bulgarian won’t be savouring his breakthrough moment as he turns his attention to a quarter-final showdown with third seed and five-time champion Roger Federer. Dimitrov is winless (0-7) in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but the two sets he’s taken off Federer came on hard courts.
“I’m already thinking about it,” Dimitrov said. It’s my first time in the quarter-finals here of the US Open, so I’m going to make the most of it. This is what I practice for, to play these matches.”
Dimitrov never looked back after grabbing the first break of the match at 5-6 in the opening set. The 28-year-old didn’t drop serve against De Minaur and only faced one break point, but also made life difficult for the Aussie in his return games, striking his one-handed backhand to perfection and ripping forehand winners from all parts of the court. He raised his arms in triumph when De Minaur sent a forehand long after two hours and five minutes.
De Minaur showed his trademark fighting spirit throughout the match, but wasn’t able to bring his best tennis and finished the day with 43 unforced errors. However, the 20-year-old can be pleased with his efforts in New York. He beat seventh seed Kei Nishikori on Friday for his first Top 10 win and maiden appearance in the fourth round of a Grand Slam.